Graphic about email forwarding

Princeton updates email forwarding service

by University Advancement
November 10, 2023

Over the course of this upcoming academic year, Princeton University will discontinue its alumni email forwarding service and offer alumni either a free Google Workspace account, allowing them to keep their Princeton email address, or an invitation to update their email address to a preferred one instead. While many alumni have enjoyed having their email automatically forwarded to a destination email address of their choosing, security concerns have reached a tipping point that requires the University to make a change.

Why make this change now? “The world and especially the big email providers are clamping down on email authentication,” said Mark Ratliff, director of cloud infrastructure services at Princeton. “They are less tolerant of emails that appear to be spoofed.” 

Spoofed emails are disguised to appear to be from a co-worker, friend or family member, but are actually phishing attempts from unknown individuals. To combat these increasingly frequent intrusions, large email providers, tech companies, the federal government and universities have started putting in place new security frameworks to authenticate email messages. “These frameworks can require that the authenticated server sending the email matches the ‘from address’ that’s in the email, and they won’t accept anything that doesn’t match,” said Ratliff, whose department put together a position paper spelling out the issue. 

Under these new security frameworks, email forwarding has become unreliable, with some servers simply failing to forward the emails. “Most email security systems interpret these [forwarded] messages as phishing attempts,” Ratliff said. 

These new internet security changes have already caused some communications frustration for alumni. For instance, some regional alumni clubs have reported that some of its members have shared that they are not receiving emails to events due to email forwarding issues impacting deliverability. When emails were forwarded, the email server — suspecting spam, phishing or some other threat — couldn’t authenticate the invite and rejected the email. 

Princeton’s Office of Information Technology advises that in the near future many email servers will not deliver messages that pass through a forwarding email address. “This is an issue that’s not just affecting Princeton,” Ratliff said. “Other universities have been forced to implement similar measures.” 

Princeton University will retire its alumni email forwarding service June 30, 2024. 

“We are grateful to OIT for managing this challenge and for developing solutions that will best serve alumni,” said Jennifer Caputo, deputy vice president for Alumni Engagement. “As we navigate evolving email authentication standards, alumni volunteers have been invaluable partners.” 

Moving forward 

The University has offered email forwarding for decades, and nearly 16,000 alumni currently use the service. While technologies around security and spam filtering have evolved to the point where this service is no longer feasible, alumni can keep their email address by creating a free Google account through Princeton that includes 22 GB of storage and a wide range of Google tools. 

Alumni who choose not to set up a new Google account can change their email address to one of their personal or professional email addresses (for example:, by emailing Alumni Records at Their chosen email will then become their preferred Princeton address, and all correspondence sent by classmates, graduate alumni leadership, regional associations, affinity groups and the University will be sent to this new preferred address. 

At any point in the future, alumni can update their preferred Princeton email address or reactivate their email address by setting up a new Google account. For alumni who don’t take any action by June 30, 2024, Alumni Records will attempt to identify another email of record within their alumni records. If no email address is known, the alum will no longer have a valid email address with the University. 

The University created an FAQ to answer any concerns.